The latest stage in the restoration of Fremantle’s historic Old Boys School was officially opened at a special function this week.
The heritage-listed building on Adelaide Street first opened as Fremantle School in 1854.
The City of Fremantle invested $2 million to restore and renovate the school and in 2017 granted local arts and health organisation DADAA a 21-year lease to create an arts and disability services hub.
The latest upgrade involved DADAA using a $1.13 million grant from Lotterywest to create digital and visual art studios, an art gallery and a beautiful public courtyard space.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was fantastic for Fremantle’s arts and disability community to have a custom built home in the heart of the City.
“The Boys School is such magnificent old building and such an important part of Fremantle’s heritage,” Mayor Pettitt said.
“DADAA – together with the other tenants Circus WA, the Fremantle Foundation and Piano Easy – are supporting access to the arts and social inclusion for hundreds of residents every week.
“The $1.13 million contribution from Lotterywest is a huge investment in Fremantle so I thank them for supporting DADAA to deliver their hopes and dreams for the building.”
DADAA chief executive David Doyle said it had been a long held vision to activate the Old Boys School by bringing the community in and creating cultural employment pathways for artists with disability.
“Getting to this point has been long haul and taken the efforts of our entire team, along with a huge number of contractors, collaborators and friends,” Mr Doyle said.
“It’s important to thank and acknowledge the huge commitment of the entire DADAA team in adding value to this massive project, because together they have created something wonderful.”
Along with the Perth Boys School in St Georges Terrace, the Fremantle Old Boys School the oldest government-built educational building in Western Australia.
At the time of its opening, the school was described by the Inquirer newspaper as ‘remarkably handsome but in our opinion far too expensive for what it was built for’.
In the following decades the school was subject to a number of additions, and from 1974 until 2014 it was home to the Perth Institute of Film and Television.
Previous restoration works undertaken by the City of Fremantle included removing the asbestos cement shingles on the roof, upgrading drainage, reinforcing the roof and chimneys and reinstating historical details like the stone finials on the parapets.
There was also extensive internal work to target rising damp and ensure the building complied with modern electrical and structural standards.